Nintendo 3DS for March 2011

March 23, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under News, Nintendo


Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has announced the March 2011 launch of the Nintendo 3DS. The latest version of the Nintendo DS will be backward compatible with DS and DSi software, and will allow 3D handheld gaming without the need for any special glasses.

Nintendo will announce more details at E3 this year.

Crunch culture killed Ensemble Studios

March 15, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under PC, Playstation, Xbox

Ensemble Studios, creators of the Age of Empires PC strategy games and Halo Wars on the Xbox 360, was closed due to problems with the corporate culture. Speaking at GDC, Paul Bettner, a 12-year veteran at Ensemble, refused to blame Microsoft for the closure of the developer.

“Microsoft is a public company, they answer to their shareholders, and we were simply too expensive.”

In his impassioned talk during the “rants” session, Bettner, now working at iPhone developer NewToy, blamed himself for the cost, inefficiency and poor quality of life caused by Ensemble’s dependence on long, “crunch” working hours.

Ensemble had a company culture where “everyone was a workaholic”, developers worked late and slept at the office, and were addicted to the rush of success of the Age of Empires series.

“I watched this happen and I did almost nothing to stop it. As an employee, and later as a manager, I didn’t take a stand. I just kept hoping for that next high,” Bettner said.

Now you can be gay on Xbox Live

March 5, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under Xbox

Marc Witten just posted a new letter regarding an update to the Xbox Live Code of Conduct. Previously, they had restricted certain words from being a part of your online identity despite even video games having those words in the title (Ballad of Gay Tony). Now though, if you feel like it, they’ve allowed a handful of new words allowing you to declare your sexual orientation.

You may use the following terms to express your relationship orientation in your profile or Gamertag:

  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bi
  • Transgender
  • Straight

Other terms regarding relationship orientation are not allowed. In addition you may not use these terms or any other terms regarding relationship orientation to insult, harass, or any other pejorative use against other users. 

Trouble at Infinity Ward?

March 2, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under PC, Playstation, Xbox

Infinity Ward president Jason West and studio head Vince Zampella appear to have been sacked by the studio’s owner Activision amid dramatic scenes and claims of breach of contract and insubordination.

G4 reported late yesterday that “bouncer-type” security had showed up at the offices of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare developer following a meeting between the two studio heads and Activision, and that West and Zampella hadn’t been seen by staff since.

G4 then turned up a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Activision earlier in the day indicating that the publisher was investigating senior staff at Infinity Ward, and expecting to sack and sue them.

“The Company is concluding an internal human resources inquiry into breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward,” the filing read. “This matter is expected to involve the departure of key personnel and litigation.”

Meanwhile, Kotaku turned up a Facebook status update from West that read, “Jason West is drinking. Also, no longer employed.” His profile on the professional networking site LinkedIn also appeared to have been updated, showing his role as “President/Game Director/CCO/CTO at Infinity Ward” as a “Past” employment.

Zampella’s status at the moment is unclear. Neither Activision or Infinity Ward has offered an official comment as yet. Infinity Ward’s vocal spokesman Robert Bowling simply said “I have no info” on his Twitter.

Zampella and West were among the founding members of Infinity Ward who had previously worked on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for EA. At their new studio, they created the immensely successful Call of Duty series of first-person shooters for Activision and continued to develop key entries in the series, culminating in the recent smash hits Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2.

West is credited as the director of Modern Warfare 2, which was 2009’s best-selling game worldwide and which racked up a billion dollars of sales in two months.

Game creator Tim Schafer, whose Brutal Legend was dropped by Activision before being picked up by EA, commented on his Twitter: “Getting mad at Activision for this kind of thing is like getting mad at an ape for throwing feces. It’s just how the beast communicates.”

PlayStation Network In Leap-Year Meltdown

March 1, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under Playstation


Sony’s PlayStation network has gone into meltdown after a bug left thousands of consoles unplayable. Owners of PS3 consoles are tweeting they can’t play PS3 Originals and that the Play Station online network is down. Some users are reporting they cannot load games with “Trophies” or play Premium Themes. Others are reporting their Trophy data and high scores have been wiped. When they attempt to log-on, gamers are reporting the following error:

“8001050F – Hardware failure. Cannot update Firmware or connect to internet”.

Some users also claim they are unable to play games previously downloaded from the network.

Since offline systems are affected, it is suggested a firmware error could be to blame rather than a network error. There are rumours it has been caused by a leap-year miscalculation, as the fault emerged overnight as February rolled into March. Many PS3 owners are reporting their console clocks have reset to December 31, 1999 or January 1, 2000.

Sony is keeping users updated via Twitter. They advise: “We’re narrowing down the issue and continue to work to restore service to all. Updates as soon as we have them. Stay tuned”.

David Wilson from Sony UK said:

“We’re working flat-out to fix the problem. We’ve got guys here working on things and our Japanese team have been working through the night to get this sorted. I’d advise users to be patient until we can get the problem solved. Those affected can still use their machines for offline play or other functionality that doesn’t require network access.”

Ubisoft DRM to require Internet connection

February 22, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under PC

Ubisoft have finally confirmed the rumour that’s been doing the rounds for a few weeks: their new PC DRM will require an always-on Internet connection in order to play their games. And if the connection drops in the middle of a game, you’ll lose your progress. And if the servers go down, you won’t be able to play your game.

The new DRM will be in all announced Ubisoft PC games , including Assassin’s Creed II, Settlers VII, Splinter Cell Conviction, Silent Hunter 5, Prince of Persia and Ghost Recon. Ubisoft have confirmed that they “plan” to keep the servers up for all games in the future, but would not say they were “committed” to it.

Maybe the best way to defeat pirates is to ensure that no-one plays the PC version of your games?

Latest Halo: Reach gameplay runs at 30fps

February 18, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under Uncategorized, Xbox


Recent footage of Halo: Reach at Microsoft’s X10 press event are looking promising. A poster at Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry said:

Overall performance is extremely smooth during gameplay. Not only do we see a remarkably solid 30FPS in most clips, it’s clear that Bungie has added a great deal more in the way of post-processing work to the new engine. While Reach overall seems to run at the same frame-rate as Halo 3, it looks and probably feels smoother owing to a decent camera motion blur effect.

Only two clips – one cut-scene, one gameplay – show a consistent drop down to 20FPS. During the assassination scene (around 00:16), we do see torn frames though. It may well be the case that some clips have v-sync engaged, others don’t. We have to remember that this is alpha footage, and presumably there’s still a hell of a lot of optimisation to be done; however, it’s likely that the fundamental elements of the engine are now solid and the performance overall looks promising.

While overall capture quality of the clips is low even in Bungie’s own HD version, there are plenty of edges to measure and all of them seem to point towards a native resolution of 1152×720 for the new engine – a significant upgrade over Halo 3’s 1152×640. Anti-aliasing doesn’t appear to be employed, but the improvements in post-processing effects and resolution should make this far less noticeable than it was in Halo 3.

Mass Effect 2 tops charts

February 8, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Xbox

Mass Effect 2 has held onto the UK All-Formats chart top spot for a second week. Publisher EA’s latest release, Dante’s Inferno, debuted in fourth. Ubisoft’s budget Wii title Just Dance held on at two, while Modern Warfare 2 is in third and FIFA 10 made up the top five. Wii Sports Resort, MAG, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Wii Fit Plus and Avatar rounded out the top 10.

Star Trek Online spent a first week in 11th, and further down THQ’s new racer MX vs ATV: Reflex entered at 18th.

New releases outside of the All-Formats Top 40 were Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers, which finished 11th and 17th on the Wii chart. Disgaea 2: Dark Days Hero finished 9th on the PSP list, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. sequel Call of Pripyat finished 4th on the PC chart.

Xbox Live to be discontinued for Xbox Originals

February 5, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under Xbox

From Major Nelson:

I wanted to let you know that on April 15, 2010 Microsoft will discontinue Xbox LIVE service for original Xbox consoles and games, including Xbox 1 games playable on Xbox 360. Our first step in this process will be to turn off auto-renewals for those members who only use Xbox LIVE on a v1 Xbox. While I can’t comment on the specifics, this change will allow us to continue evolving the LIVE service with new features and experiences that fully harness the power of Xbox 360 and the Xbox LIVE community. We did not make this decision lightly, but after careful consideration and review we realize that this decision will allow us unprecedented flexibility for future features.

Borderlands DLC character will be on Twitter

February 4, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under PC, Playstation, Xbox

Earlier in the week Gearbox Software revealed that a character from the upcoming third add-on pack for Borderlands (titled The Secret Armoury of General Knoxx) would have a Twitter account and would dispense information from it.

Now the publisher’s Creative Director, Mikey Neumann, has announced that we can expect an update to this secret twitter account very soon. A post on his Twitter account reads “Will be updating the secret twitter no one totally knows about very soon. Will unlock all requests to join at the same time. (It’s secret).”

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